Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yet Another Rock

Yet another issue with having kids with special needs is trying to figure out just how sick the kid is or isn't. This is a tough one for all parents, but for us, it's worse.

Take FTD, for example. He never complains about anything. Well, except he complains about DD a lot. He tries to please everyone. After he hurled on his brand new carpet earlier this week, we just assumed he was over-stimulated by new carpet, new bed, new position of bed, new room color, and so on. We carefully included him every step of the way and took it slowly, letting him absorb all the new stuff gradually. He didn't have a fever and didn't complain about pain anywhere. We let him stay home from school on Wednesday (despite knowing that we'll hear about it later from the school. It's about time for the "Your child should be in school more" letter that we frequently receive. No duh.)

He didn't eat much, but then he usually doesn't eat a lot during the day--a side effect of one of his meds. He seemed a bit off, but again, I chalked it up to nerves. He was starting to have diarrhea the following day, which is never fun. But it kept up. Not alarming amounts, just annoying amounts. Friday there was no school for anyone and he seemed better. This morning it hit the fan again. (On a Saturday, of course.) I finally asked him if he needed to go to the hospital to fix it. Yep, he said, take me now. That's nearly screaming for him. So 2 x-rays, 1 CT scan*, and 4 IVs of saline later, we're still at the hospital. This is his first overnight, and hopefully his last for many many years.

The upshot is that he either has a bacterial or viral intestine infection. Hmm. A type of flu. The type for which he didn't get a shot. I really didn't see this one coming. Had it been someone else, they probably would have been screaming and yelling and moaning and groaning, but not FTD. He's my trooper.

*Add a new funny story to my sidebar list: He got done with the CT Scan and said it was like being stuffed inside a roll of toilet paper! Isn't that just the best description of it you've ever heard? That's my boy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Rock and A Hard Place

Having kids with special needs means our lives don't follow anything that vaguely resembles a normal schedule. There is no typical path for us to follow--you know, high school, then college or a gap year then college, then jobs, marriage, family. . .

We have to keep our kids in school somehow until they turn 22, because they won't be covered under DH's health insurance. Yes, they are both eligible for Medicaid, and we do use some of the services available to us from Medicaid, but we still prefer they be on our insurance. (For example, their psychiatrist isn't a Medicaid provider so who knows who we'd end up with--and our guy has been with us for over 10 years.) Neither of the boys will have a great deal of success in a college setting. Despite advances in support for kids with disabilities in colleges, I don't see it happening for our kids. They will forever be in minimum wage jobs, doing something they really don't like. I've mentioned before that being a parent of special needs kids means being in a constant state of grieving and here it is again.

FTD has now been accepted into the Job Skills program at the area 5 county vocational high school. Next summer, and yes I do mean next summer--August 18, which is utterly stupid, he'll start there. He honestly believes he'll be taking at least one or two drafting classes, which he loved at his current HS, but what he'll really be doing is cleaning and sorting and stuff like that in various businesses around town. I truly am thankful that there are programs like this for kids. But it utterly and completely breaks my heart that it's MY kid who needs it.

Part of me just wants to tell the schools to shove it, and to keep him home where I can love him and care for him and tuck him into bed every night. We could chuck all this school schedule crap and get him a part-time job at YNP again like he did last summer. The safety net is there for him, and we'll be able to provide financially also, so why do I put all of us through the torture that schools present? And why do I have this gut feeling that in the long run it won't make one damn itty bitty bit of difference.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One Room~~Coming Along Nicely, Thank You

When we built our "new" house 15 years ago, I wasn't sure what colors to paint the rooms. So I didn't. The light plays very, very differently from room to room and season to season. For example, in the summer the living room seems green, even though it's very white.

So when the time came to do something with FTD's room, paint was necessary. Necessary because when we moved in I faux-painted the wainscoting area. It was supposed to look like logs, but because I forgot to shade the 'logs' to look rounded, it ended up looking like a stable, but there it was. This photo shows his room before, minus the wildlife and park posters that covered the wall.

It started with one of those chains of events: DD jumped into his bed one evening and crash! it's busted and busted good. The way things work around here usually, DD gets all the cool, new stuff. He's always been my 'material girl.' It looked like he'd need a new bed. But many years ago after visiting a friend's cabin in the UP, FTD said he would like to have a log bed like theirs someday. I said great. It's been 6 years and now this happens. DD gets the new stuff again. . .or does he? My brilliant niece, Sally Seam-Ripper, #5/8 (see my Derby posts!) said why don't we give DD FTD's bed and get FTD a new one. Doh. So I painted FTD's bed shiny black at DD's request--"It's Norfolk Southern colors, you know" and ordered FTD a new bed.

If only life were that simple. First I had to worry about the size of the bed. Since the boys are young men now, they really have outgrown twin size beds (DH says, "Well, I slept in a twin bed until I was 28. Hrumph." Yeah, dude, and you only weighed 120 lbs sopping wet.) But the boys' mattresses are about 10 years old and still in great shape, so Scotswoman that I am, I couldn't bring myself to cough up the dough for a full size mattress. He'll need it soon. . . but for a while at least, FTD will be sleeping on a twin mattress in a full frame.

But wait! The new log bed is finished so beautifully (Moon Valley in Clarkston MI) the faux painted stable walls had to go. And this is the room of a young adult, not a little kid after all.

It was time: Put colored paint on the walls! Yikes, what a jump for me! I really do love the serene white of the house, but it's time to go out on a limb. And of course, if we got new paint, well, he needs new carpeting, too. The stuff that was in there was a great industrial grade, very flat carpet that was great for little kids who had all manner of accidents. . . yeah. And it held up beautifully. But again, it's time for grown up stuff. We took the old carpet and put it up in his loft and it looks great up there. The rest will go to DH's workshop in the basement.

My color sense isn't very good--picking material for quilts makes me crazy for example. I know when I love something, but I can't tell if it's blue-green or grey-green the way BeeHive Betty can. So I asked another wonderful friend to help me pick out carpet and paint. We spent several hours at The Anderson's General Store and came home with paint. Our wonderful store associate told us that carpet would be on sale in two weeks--20% off instead of the 10% Geezer Discount I was planning on.

My new nephew said he could help with the painting, but only if we did it a couple of weeks ago. Since he's 6'5" tall, that's a great offer. We moved all of FTD's junk to various other places all over the house--the hall, the dining room, and his mattress went into the living room. Lovely. Just lovely. Not. We painted and then waited for the sale. Then we waited to get it installed and HOORAH! it went in today.

As soon as FTD got home from school, he and DH started working on the new and gorgeous bed.

And here we are now. The bed is put together, his clothes are back in the closet, and tomorrow I hope to get the stuff back on the shelves. In the meantime, FTD is doing that which he likes best. And he's back in the room he loves the best.

NEW POST SCRIPT: Exactly 12 hours after the carpet was installed, FTD woke up and barfed all over it. Poor kid. I think it was the excitement of having a 'new' room. Bless his heart.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quilts, Quilts, Quilts

Now that I'm home from my first (of many, I hope) quilt retreat, I continue to be humbled by the remarkably talented women I met this weekend. They make it look so easy. (That line was the joke of the night, by the by!) The quilts they make and then give away just boggled my mind. Women from all, and I do mean all, walks of life, sharing a common love (or obsession), coming together to share a few tips with a complete stranger~~what a nice way to spend the weekend. I have several new ideas for my crafty corner, as well as many tips for my sewing work. My hat is off to the women of the Gathering of Quilters of NW Ohio. They only meet 5 times a year, so I hope to join them more often. And they don't meet in the summer, which suits my schedule perfectly.

The Crafty Corner Evolves
Over the last year, DH and I have made a concerted effort to finish the basement. We had hoped to do it many years ago, but the way our lives run, we're happy to be this far along now. (DH is working on his Man Cave, and hopes to have it pretty well along before he comes out West, and the ceiling will be next fall's Big Project.)

My crafty corner is almost complete. After talking to and working with so many talented quilters this weekend, I'm psyched to get my area finished. I need for DH to make a couple of table tops for me, and to pick up a few more necessities (good iron, good task lights, for example) and I'm ready to rock and roll. I rearranged tables, added a wire shelving unit, and fussed with how to store big pieces of material and the bitty bits that are left over. It still lacks the home-y-ness of my old sewing/office/laundry room, but once we get the mechanicals hidden it will come together.

Office/Sewing/Laundry Room Old Ironing Center

New crafty closet

I hope to pick up several of the final goodies tomorrow, including backing and batting for my Badlands Quilt (yes! Finished!) and the Three Bears Quilt. The Three Bears is going to be my YNP quilt. After I get these done, I'm going to make a quilt for FTD's new bed. More on that in a couple of days--the new carpeting should be here Tuesday so I'll get pics posted when we get his room put back together. I'd like to paint the Dining room and the "girls' bathroom" (ha!) but I really need to start concentrating on pre-packing for out west. I need to run through the kitchen boxes to be sure all the stuff is still intact, and the bedding needs to be re-packed, since we're going to try something a bit different this year.

Since I was up sewing until 3 a.m. the past two nights, I'm ready to hit the hay!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Off We Go

Quilts around the house

Well, I did it. I've left my family. I'll be back Sunday around noon, but for me to be gone from home for (gasp) 50+ hours, well that's something.

Beehive Betty and I are at a quilting retreat. Yeah, we rock. One of the local quilting guilds had two spaces left for their annual quilt-til-you-drop funfest, so we've tagged along. It's being held in a very nice facility called Wide Water Retreat, operated by the Methodists. In the main room of the lodge, which is sunny and nice, tables are set up with 3 to 4 women and their machines. I came nearly empty handed, and BB brought several of her bags to sew, but holy cow! You should see how much stash some of these gals brought! And they can sew. While I've never met a corner on a quilt that I couldn't mess up, the work these ladies do is awesome.

The real excitement for today, er tonite, was when someone cleaned one of the many irons, and it set off the fire alarm--it was about 1:30 a.m. so only about half the women were asleep. Well, that and the 20 or so women at the other end of the building. . . So no, we won't clean any irons tomorrow night.

But now I must go try to get some beauty rest--it's 2:37 a.m. as I type, and oddly, I'm not all that sleepy. I have this horrid feeling I'll regret this tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

How Children Should Spend Their Days

We had a fog cancellation day. It really was murky. So the kids were home, which worked out well, since FTD is sick and can't really afford to miss any more days this quarter. That's one of the many hard parts of having a child who's nearly able to make it on his own in school, but not really. Sigh.

So since my niece's school was also canceled, she needed a sitter for my great-nephew Colin. He's a wild and wacky, bundle of energy six year old. Even though it was a bit overcast outside it seemed warm enough for a little walk. Warm enough indeed. Most of the time the humidity in Ohio is just unbearable. Today, the warm air was absolutely lovely. It was like a moist envelope of air, soothing inside and out. So off we went, DD, Colin, and I. My plan was to walk our road to the corner, down to the next corner and back home. Little boys with spring fever have other ideas.

We got as far as the next ravine over. We have a small ravine on our property, and the one just up the road is deeper. Deep by northwestern Ohio standards is 10 feet or so, but if you are only 3 feet tall, well, that's a huge ravine. And lo and behold, there's running water in the ravine. It's only about 2 feet across, but again, if you're only 3 feet tall, well. . . So here's how we spent our afternoon. It was wonderful. Within minutes, Colin had gone into the drink. Unfortunately, one of his shoes stayed there--and Lord knows they dug and dug to try and find it. Since one shoe was gone, I suggested that Colin give me the other one. He tossed it in my direction and eventually I found it. And oh yes, the boys were both covered head to toes in good ol' mud. Children need more face time with mud. Today was a perfect day for mud.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Tale of Four Boots, with some shoes tossed in for variety.

I've griped before about my boot situation. So here are the culprits:

On the top left:  My old beloved Wolverines.  The first time I put them on they fit perfectly.  Ah, bliss.  But alas, they are getting sorta grungy, current coating of mud notwithstanding.

On the top right: My new Wolverines--same size, make, and model as the others.  But alas!  They rub my little toe-sies to the point of absolute pain!  Arg!!! (They are for sale, size 6, women's Wolverines, seldom worn.)

On the bottom left:  My Official Work Front County Hiker Boots, in of course, cordovan, no stitching, polishable, and currently filthy.  They do need a good shine. . .  They are size 5.5, the perfect length, but are so narrow!!!!  I had the toes stretched a couple of days ago (along with my new Wolverines and dress shoes). That has helped some.  I also have the very obscenely expensive custom-made orthodtics in those boots.  The left one feels just fine and dandy, like I might actually be able to survive a whole day in them, but the right one still puts me into complete agony.  And did I mention that they squeak when I walk? Again, ARGGGGGGG!

On the bottom right: My unofficial dress shoes.  Made by Timberland called Smart something. Even though they are size 6, they're a bit tight, so I have to wear light weight socks, which is usually okay in the Visitor Center.  Hopefully the toe stretching will help.  They shine up pretty well.

So here's what I'm stuck with.  Boots that fit amazingly well, but are now too scruffy for work or boots that look grand but kill my feet.  Not a good situation.

My solution:  Figure some way to get permission to wear my ski boots!  They are the world's most comfortable things!  I bought them last winter off Ebay.  I have the old-fashioned skiis with three pins in the binding.  I've been through a couple of pairs of boots over the past 30 years, but couldn't bring myself to cough up the dough for new-fangled skiis, bindings, and boots.  So to Ebay I went.  I found these boots, leather, wool lined, three-pins, Norwegian made, worn maybe twice, complete with the original box and original sales receipt for $20.00!  That's twenty dollars!  Wow!!  Better yet, they are exactly like my first pair of boots and were originally purchased very close to the time I bought my first pair!  I totally and completely love them!
So back to the podiatrist I go, working under the assumption that the ski boots won't fly at work.  Drat.  The guy I'm seeing seems to think my issues are shoe related and there's nothing else he can do.  For the amount of cash my insurance company and I have dished out, I should be walking in gold-coated, cloud lined boots.

Most of the boot/shoe issue is related to the tarsal coalition issue I've written about before.  I've made jokes with our resident doctor-ranger-orthopedic guy about finding someone to just whack off my little toes and be done with it. (I've heard rumors that models have it done so they can wear pointy-toed shoes.  Dunno if it's true, being such a slave to fashion as I is and all.)  The aforementioned doctor-ranger-guy laughed and said with the economy as bad as it is, I might just be able to work a deal with someone!  I was making jokes with someone else when DD heard this and just about came unglued.  I had no idea he cared so much!

So I'm on my annual hunt for boots I can wear at work. What else do I have to do with my time?

Oh yeah, I can wait around and wonder how long it will take to get my fingerprints rejected again!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Springing Forward

All sorts of things happening in this time of change. We've actually had very nice weather for several days--odd around here. Warm temps are helping to slowly melt the snow, instead of the one-day-hot-blast that causes creeks to overflow their banks. The snow in our yard is and isn't melting in very odd patterns. I'm also taking bets on when the snow pile in the front of the house finally melts. It's nearly 5 feet high this year. In the past we've had snow there through all of March. This year, I'm guessing the pile will still be there well into April. Send your dollar bills with your pick for a date!

Wedding and Baby Bells
The niece's wedding reception and baby introduction party went well last Saturday. Nice group of people with whom to celebrate. K2's Mom and little bro came up from Alabama, and several other nieces/nephews of the family came to town. I set up the tables, decorated, and ran the kitchen for them, then hung around in the kitchen just like in the old days. A nice time, indeed.

These feets are made for walkin'. . . sorta.
I've been trying to get more walking done lately--which is a good trick as my feet and ankles are giving me fits. I have a congenital condition called tarsal collation, which means two of the bones in each ankle are fused together. The result is somewhat oddly shaped feet with no flexibility. The upshot is that walking/standing just plain hurts. I also exacerbated the situation in December by taking a little bitty tumble on a snowy sidewalk. Doh. I hurt my left ankle and subsequently my right foot developed a nasty little thing called plantar fasciitis. But wait! There's more! Then both feet hurt and it was time to bake cookies. And then I ate cookies, but since my feets were a-killin' me, I couldn't go walking or skiing. So then I gained weight for the first time in years, and then my feet hurt worse. Drat.

The painful solution comes in several parts. A-#1 is to lose some weight. After all, I've gotta fit back into my loverly green-n-greys in just 10 more weeks. So I'm now a member of Weight Watchers and have lost my first five pounds. If I continue at this rate, I'll be good to go when work starts. (And by the time of Miss Molly's party in August, I'll be ready to kick up my heels in cowgirl boots!)

I've also been to the podiatrist to have orthotics made for my work boots. These are basically really expensive Dr. Scholl's inserts. I've been back three times trying to get them to fit. The one in my left boot is pretty dang comfortable, but the one in my right is killing me. Now that I've been trying them, I can add tingling to my right foot. And here I thought it was suppose to feel better, not worse. Round four next week. I also took my dress boots, dress shoes, and regular boots to the cobbler to have the toes stretched. It has helped with the dress boots, but with the new arch killing me, it's a wash.

I'm pretty sure there's no medical procedure that can alleviate the problem. So I have to rely on getting boots that fit. And since we're only allowed to wear either the company issued Vasque boots or other leather boots with no extra stitching which can be polished with cordovan, that really, really limits my choices. I'm thinking about exploring the possibility of getting a medical "excuse" to have to wear some other type of boots. Maybe the back country Vasques would fit. Maybe pigs will fly.

On a Sad Note
A Law Enforcement Ranger with the US Forest Service, Chris Upton, was killed in the line of duty last week. He worked at a the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests in Georgia. A couple of guys were hunting coyotes and mistook him for prey. This story could be any of our rangers, anywhere, any time. A heart breaking story. More info here: